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Powerful Warm Ups for Your Middle School English Class

July 12, 2018 4 min read

To help our students get the most out of our Language Arts bell ringer work / warm ups / “do now” assignments and ensure rigor, we have found that aligning the work to the standards, spiraling the curriculum as often as possible, and including a variety of content can make a HUGE difference in student productivity and engagement. (Not sure what a bell ringer is? Read more about them here.)

What We Were Doing Before Our Powerful Warm Ups:

The “aha” moment that our bell ringers needed to be more powerful stemmed from our multiple concerns about the Daily Oral Language warm ups (DOL) our schools were currently using:

  • Students were mindlessly copying the incorrect sentences from the board into their notebooks. In practice, literally practicing the wrong thing!
  • The supposed corrections were in isolation, and students rarely transferred the correct forms of grammar to their own writing (it drove us notes when students wrote “should of” in their essays instead of “should have” even though it showed up in DOL all the time as an error to fix).
  • It took FOREVER to grade and students were bored out of their minds (we were, too!).
  • The main focus was on grammar, punctuation, and capitalization when in reality, we needed our students to practice so much more!
  • The answer key often only gave one correct answer, yet students were confused and would want to completely change the sentence in a way that worked, but didn’t match the concept DOL was focusing on … super frustrating!

It was time for something new and more effective! Hence, the powerful warm ups we created.

Searching for quality English Language Arts warm up work led us to several options, but when none met our needs (rigorous, standards-based, spiraled, and a variety of content), we decided to make our own.

As opposed to having different days of the week set aside for different skills (i.e. Word of the Week Wednesday), in the resource we created each day looks different in many of the weeks. The purpose in doing this is to address many of the Common Core ELA Standards, but also to make sure our students didn’t get bored with doing the same concepts each week, and thus, produce less quality work.

These English Language Arts (ELA) warm up / bell ringers / do now activities are the PERFECT way to start your day or class period with your middle school students. Includes grammar, vocabulary, writing, informational text, literary analysis, creative writing, and SO much more!
These English Language Arts (ELA) warm up / bell ringers / do now activities are the PERFECT way to start your day or class period with your middle school students. Includes grammar, vocabulary, writing, informational text, literary analysis, creative writing, and SO much more!

We included the following in our warm up work resource:

Grammar + Punctuation
Simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, compound-complex sentences, verbals, nouns as subjects and complements, nouns as objects, nouns as appositives, main parts of verbs, transitive and intransitive verbs, active and passive voice, hyphens and dashes, semicolons, quotations marks, parentheses, indicative and imperative mood, subjunctive mood, and punctuation and capitalization.
Root Words
Given Greek or Latin root words, students will find three words based off of specific word parts, create visual depictions, and write sentences.
Figurative Language
Similes, metaphors, idioms, hyperboles, and including figurative language in writing.
Literary Analysis
Introductory paragraphs, body paragraphs, claims, finding the right evidence, and justification.
Informational Text
Author’s purpose, compare and contrast, acknowledging different viewpoints, inferring viewpoints, and analyzing structure.
Narrative / Creative Writing
Leads, dialogue, transitions, creating stronger sentences and paragraphs, and endings.
Mentor Sentences
Students practice types of sentences, figurative language, vocabulary, and diction.
Literary Terms
Allusion, foreshadowing, mood, symbolism, tone, theme, and conflict.
Critical Thinking
Arguable and relevant high-level interest topics and journal responses to thought-provoking quotes.
Bonus Tasks
Goal setting, Halloween writing prompts and word search, Christmas writing prompts, Valentine’s Day poetry analysis, I Am Poem, getting to know me activities, blackout poetry, and much more!

We really are in love with this resource and and know our students appreciate the variety and rigor. Check out some of the feedback from other happy teachers as well.

“This product is perfect! The concepts and skills found in this are truly amazing. It is well organized and aesthetically appealing to the eye. If you are in the market for a bell ringer journal that students will actually enjoy and you will enjoy reading the responses, then look no further.”

“ALL of my resources from here are amazing. Very thorough and require critical thinking by my students. Worth every penny!!”
And we have put ALL of this together for you in a 180-page packet that covers 36 weeks of school! If you would like the entire packet of quality warm up work with everything already done for you and ready to go, it is available in our TpT store. We really are honestly in love with these bell ringers!
We now offer this resource in TWO different volumes! Volume 1 is perfect for grades 7-8 and Volume 2 is excellent for grades 6-7. If you teach multiple grade levels are want to utilize both, we also offer both resources in a bundle!
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These English Language Arts (ELA) warm up / bell ringers / do now activities are the PERFECT way to start your day or class period with your middle school students. Includes grammar, vocabulary, writing, informational text, literary analysis, creative writing, and SO much more!
 
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